When traveling through Eastern Europe, I fell in love with the taste and vibrant color of cold beet soup. Interestingly, the dish is fairly consistent throughout Eastern Europe, but it has a different name in each country. In Lithuania it is called Šaltibarščiai, in Poland it is called Chlodnik, and in Belarus it is called Holodnik, meaning something that cools you.
I ordered the dish in numerous countries and pledged that when I returned home I would study the recipe and share it with you all.
After reviewing many recipes online, and I am ready to share my own version of this easy to make, low-calorie, vegetarian dish!
The recipe below is for one large bowl of soup, so multiply based on the number of people in your party.
Ingredients for one bowl of soup
- 1 cup of kefir
- 1 cup of beet juice*
- 3 cooked beets*
- 3 radishes
- 1 small cucumber
- 2 tbsp of chopped green onion
- 1 tbsp of chopped chives
- 2 hard boiled eggs**
For *, ** see the Ingredient Tips section below.
- Slice the radishes and cucumbers in to thin rounds, then cut them in to then 1 mm wide strips. For the radishes, cut the strips so that the bright pink skin is on either end.
- Cut the beets in to small cubes (approximately 1 cm per side)
- Pour the kefir and beet juice in to a large mixing bowl. Note that a 1:1 ratio of kefir to beet juice produces the vibrant color. For a more creamy colored soup, like the one I’m holding in the picture below (taken in Lithuania) add less beet juice.
- Add the cubed beets, chives, green onion, and thinly sliced strips of radish and cucumber to the kefir and beet juice mixture, and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. If you’d like your soup to have less green things floating in it, reduce the amount of chives and green onion.
- Get creative with your hard boiled eggs… I like to add 1 finely chopped hard boiled egg to the chilled soup and garnish the top of my soup with another hard boiled egg either halved or quartered. It’s really up to you how you’d like to include the eggs, if even at all!
Ingredient Tips*, **
* My favorite brand of beets is Love Beets, which provides healthy, organic beets and beet juice. If this brand is available in the grocery store near you, I highly recommend using their products! If they aren’t in your grocery store, a single can of Whole Beets Grade A generally contains ~1 cup of beet juice, and will have more than enough beets for a single large bowl of soup.
** If you haven’t tried Vital Farms Eggs yet, add it to your grocery store list right now. This company is outstanding, and treats their hens with utmost care. Did you know that “cage-free” only gives hens an average of 1.5 square feet to roam? Imagine standing in roughly a 1 ft. x 1 ft. square for the rest of your life. Vital Farms provides pasture-raised eggs, which means the hens have an average of 108 square feet. You can taste the difference, and you can see the difference in the vibrantly colored yolk.
For Inspiration: I consumed my most beautiful bowl of cold beet soup in Riga at Gutenberg’s Rooftop Restaurant. If you find yourself in Latvia you have to go an order the beet soup as a starter. The picture below is proof of its beauty! One of the greatest things about this dish internationally, is that it was always affordable. I never paid more than $10 per bowl regardless of presentation.